Archive for July, 2013

Monthly Challenge, Instant Payoff!

This morning I got a voice mail from Trader Joe’s. I knew, as soon as the dude said he was calling from Trader Joe’s, that it could only mean one thing.

I finally won.

After some dozen plus years of Trader Joe’s shopping all over Los Angeles, each time diligently filling out the raffle ticket and dropping it in a box, sometimes three or four times a week– I had finally won. It was like winning the lottery! Except for doing something I would already do anyway!

The Winnings

The Winnings

So I went to Trader Joe’s and picked up my prizes. Unfortunately the prize was two new plastic items- not the most auspicious start to Plastic Free July– but although I only use cloth bags for my groceries I can still use this as a beach/library/pool tote. I have two kids, I never run out of crap to schlep. And the $10 gift card doesn’t hurt. (Of course being the world’s biggest YNAB nerd I promptly created that card as a cash account with $10 in it and then budgeted that $10 to groceries. I guess I could have kept it off-budget and spent it on something totally frivolous but accountability is the new fun, right?)

I wonder, though, who gives the better rewards for bringing your own bags? Whole Foods gives you 10 cents a bag, Trader Joe’s gives you a chance at prizes. I shop at Whole Foods an average of once every 1-2 weeks and use 1-2 bags, on average. At that rate it would take me about 89 weeks- just over a year and a half or so- to “earn” $10. I shop at Trader Joe’s once a week and use 3-5 bags each time. If they paid me $0.10 a bag, I would “earn” $10 in just 28.5 weeks or so. Instead it took me over 12 years!

Obviously I don’t bring my own bags for the cash and prizes. But still, math sure manages to take the fun out of that big win.

Monthly Challenge? July…

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Oats and rice…

So I am reading Plastic-Free by Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life and it is pretty good. Not nearly as intimidating or– shrill, I guess, as I was expecting. Yes, she has gone to great lengths to eliminate plastic from her life but most of her tips seem doable. And she usually gives a lot of choices- explaining which of a handful of options she goes with and why but not leaving you feeling like that is the only correct choice. (Of course the tip that I thought was so brilliant- tell the CSA to not use plastic!- was already in the book.)

Today I had some extra time to have a look around the bulk aisle at Whole Foods and felt quite smug since I had brought my own produce bags and so could get two of the items off my list (rolled oats and short grain brown rice) waste-free. Of course I then wondered what the mesh bags are MADE of and it’s probably plastic so there’s that. But I turned the oats into granola as soon as I got home and put the rice in a glass jar so, you know, baby steps.

Anyway. I would like to reduce my plastic consumption for July- based on my current reading and because it’s already a thing– but that’s a tough goal to set when I don’t really know what my plastic consumption is. So next week I’ll be saving my household plastic for the Plastic Trash Challenge. Then I’ll try to reduce it the following week(s).

Are you already doing Plastic Free July? What plastic packaging do you think you could never do without? (The things I am hard pressed to imagine life without: dairy [milk cartons/glass jug lids/cottage cheese containers], beauty and hygiene products…)

Monthly Challenge June 2013- Let’s Not Dine Out

So, I just crunched the numbers and we reduced our restaurant consumption by 70% in June, when compared to May. That is pretty astonishing (and way better than my goal of just staying under budget).

To be fair, like I said earlier, this was a bit of a cheat as there was some travel involved where the meals weren’t paid for by us. And Grammy came to visit, so she took the boys out for more treats than they otherwise would have gotten. But I also went to Jeni’s four times last month (a conference across from their new Easton Center, I could not resist) and the boys and Jeff got their weekend treats in, too. Looking back on June, I certainly don’t feel deprived. (I’ll have to ask Jeff how he felt about his packed lunches. I think he enjoyed them some as he has been taking more and more to work.)

Looking ahead, Jeff and I are headed out to eat tomorrow night for our anniversary- and we can do so guilt free knowing what the rest of the month will look like- a lot like June. Now that I know we don’t miss it, there’s no reason to let our restaurant overspending creep back in.